This is an exercise in using oils. I feel a bit more in control, mixing with a knife and using paint on the tip of the brush rather than over loading the bristles. Where needed I am blending on the canvas.
There was no sketch. The only idea was the hard edge between orange and blue centre stage and a vague sense of yellow and green at the top.
Rotating this 90 degrees and working further imposed a child-like grammar of landscape – blue sky and clouds above, earth colours, mountains, trees, grass, below.
The other way up, blue and white are water and surf crashing onto rock faces.
Rotate back one quarter and I am staring down the cliffs onto a torrent. It needs the dentate leaves of ferns and, far below, the small shapes of wheeling pterosaurs.
I’ve been following a lot of fabulous palaoeart on twitter recently which is rubbing off on me. See these as examples, fossil fish and the first pterosaur to be recognised as being furry. Here are some more. Mark Witton, whose sketch accompanies a piece on the BBC world service, is a fabulous palaeoartist I have followed for some time.
So this is the finished oil painting. Finished in the sense I don’t propose to work more on it. The series leading to this is below in chronological order, starting with the charcoal sketch, which was then transferred to the canvas.
Part of the challenge here was simply experimenting with mixing paint and applying it to the canvas.
So this is the point I should have stepped back and been careful to retain the structure of the foreground from the original sketch.
So it was with this iteration I lost the structure in the lower right quadrant, obscuring this with vegetation rising from the bottom of the canvas. Part of the challenge was my clumsiness with using the brush to apply a clean stroke of paint
This version had been digitally altered to variegate depth of tone, as an exploration of how to proceed, leading to the final version.
So there were various bits I like along the journey but the final painting does not pull them together. Time to stop. More sketching needed with an eye to the subsequent painting.
I hope everyone has had happy holidays. This is how my first attempt in oils is shaping up. These are water miscible, but that just means I can wash brushes without toxicity. I have switched to using linseed oil as the mixer where needed. This builds on a charcoal dog-sketch transferred onto a textured canvass, prepared by painting over an old image in white acrylic. After the first layer of oil I muted the garish colours in white, left it for a few days then scraped back. I will leave this to harden a few days then work over it again. There is a kind of plan, but I dont wholly know what I am doing. The dog-sketch was from late September and I have some source photos. However, I am not setting out to be true to the original scene. Comments and advice are welcome
I have started to think about how I use the sketches I make, integrating those ideas. Here are starts. Above, I have drawn on canvas drawn in mixed greys and impure whites with water-miscible oils. The next step is to imagine colours onto this. Below, I drew in charcoal direct onto a lino block, aiming to sketch directly into a print (it’s a flawed idea as I will rub off the charcoal guide in cutting).
My weekly playlist, selected for my by spotify, included this track
which took me back to this moment in history, perhaps lost in more recent events
I am an atheist, but grace is something in which we all share.
Kerfe (method two madness) says “I like that you create a world that exists outside of humanity here. Serene. Enough just to be itself”.
I had not thought before that was what I was doing, but, this time, I cycled out to the woods in the nature reserve with that thought in mind.
Night was falling as I drew.
There is poetry in the rhythm of the trees. The poetry I am reading treasures the moments of warmth against the oncoming darkness.
I have been using a pen and Indian ink, drawing texture from inside shapes as in the next two pictures. However, I want to simplify my field sketches.
I have approached these next drawings differently. I start by mapping the image mentally onto a square and then apply simple blocky shapes to build the sketch.
The instrument I chanced upon is an old charcoal pencil. It is an unsubtle H grade, unyielding when mark making. Even sharpened it quickly reverts to a chisel. The squared-off edge imposes jerky movements and irregular polygonal shapes.
Even so, it is easy to succumb to the temptation to try for shading tones and building textures, as in the evening fields below (I was out looking for owls and observing Jupiter and Saturn rise). But the tool is too crude for this purpose.
Below are two attempts at the same woodland, looking through the leaf-clad trunks rising from dense fern undergrowth. Light filters through from the sky and there is dense shade in a hollow made by an A of two leaning trees and a bush. The hard charcoal cannot offer the contrasts of shading I wanted.
Further along the same woodland (I was cycling the Tarka trail between Great Torrington and Bideford in Devon) I tried again. This time I licked the drawing point (and a little grossed out, dipped it in water) to deepen the tones.
In the next pair of drawings, now from a cliff top, I started with a charcoal sketch overdrawn with a soft graphite stick. I then redrew this, reverting to heavy lines and crude shapes, splodging it with watercolour from a fat squirrel hair brush. Interestingly the H grade charcoal seems pretty water-fast.
In another clifftop view, the charcoal and watercolour is overlaid with a black marker for depth of tone and conte crayon for texture.
At the estuary at Bideford, a boat drawn up onto the bank gave the foreground, with the Torridge bridge behind. On a baking afternoon, the sun behind me, there were few variations in tone. I found myself simply colouring in my shapes, making this a naive (= childish?) painting.
Further up river, from the Landcross bridge I drew a crenellated building on the river bank, set against trees. A search on the internet reveals this to be ruined lime kilns, shaped according to the landowners whim. This simple fast drawing is closer to my purpose: the paint should not simply follow the lines.
I lost the charcoal pencil from my drawing kit. So I reverted to the pen, but now keeping the lines to a minimum. I could not use the bite of this smooth paper to capture the reflected sky sparkling from the water. Instead I used a white conte crayon as a resist before dragging wet colour across. I also used crayon to adjust the intensity of tone on the distant hills and overlay the near grasses.
My son is setting up a gardening business based on the principles of permaculture. He has taken over an allotment to serve as his laboratory. My youngest son and I have spent recent weekends helping him clear this of unwanted foliage and junk. Currently he is proud owner of a very large pile of weeds.